Delegation with a Capital D
Other than setting your desk into flames, which may be tempting as you look at the backlogged stack of papers to your left (okay, for some of you it might be on the right…), the fastest way to get pesky tasks out of your way is by delegating them.
If you’re wondering how this relates to the Eisenhower Method, think back to the “Not Critical but Urgent” quadrant.
The reason these tasks are backlogged is because they didn’t demand your attention or your expertise—they weren’t critical, so you focused on something else. However, you kept them in front of you, because when they landed on your desk, they felt pressing.
You might have even thought to yourself, “Shouldn’t my assistant be doing this?”
You were on the right track.
Rather than forgetting about these “Critical but Not Urgent” items while you work on those email templates or that new initiative for your boss, delegate them to the team members they belong to. Here are a few delegation strategies to keep you sane.
1. Clear Direction: Before delegating work, make sure team members understand overarching project goals or even company goals. This will help reduce confusion or ambiguity as they work on tasks.
2. Start Small: Becoming a master delegator doesn’t happen overnight. Start with the easy stuff like paperwork and phone calls, then work your way up to full projects. If you’re confused on what to delegate, check out this email on how Daniel Shapiro from LinkedIn does it.
3. Play to People’s Strengths: Get to know your team, then give them work that utilizes their skill sets. This will keep your team feeling more engaged, which helps motivate everyone to do their best.
4. Utilize Meetings (Wisely): Touch base as needed to hand off action items. The average American speaks at about 130 words per minute. The average American types about 40. Are you catching on? This means you can convey 3x more information in a ten-minute meeting than if you spend ten minutes writing an email. Remember that talk we had on day 1 about making smarter choices? This is one of them.
Here’s Your Homework
Next time somebody walks into your office, or comes up to your desk, or emails you, or sends you a message on Slack (or however you all communicate) and asks you to do something that’s outside of your area of responsibility, delegate accordingly.
In our office, we have a list of who works on exactly what, so we all know where to go when we have an engineering request, a marketing idea, HR questions, etc.
Don’t let that pile of “not my job” get any bigger. And don’t set it on fire, please. Get those hands ready and start folding paper planes to send that work where it belongs.
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